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Mind Your Mind….

Friends!  I just ran across this post from a couple of Octobers ago, remembering I’d forgotten (huh?) its’ message…May we all remember to guard what goes into our minds.  Enjoy!…

Filled to the brim with excitement, Hubster and I were crossing the pond for our first-ever trip to France. Flying thru’ the night from Detroit to Amsterdam, most everyone but me slept.

Watching a little virtual map of our plane flying over different countries, logging hundreds of miles in minutes, kept me wide-eyed. Just as we touched down in Amsterdam, a big, beautiful orange sun was rising over the airport! While it was midnight back in the States, it was six o’clock in the morning in Amsterdam. Wow.

amsterdam

Clueless as to how to find our next gate, some sweet soul showed us how to enter different checkpoints en route to our plane to Marseilles. Suddenly, we came upon a very familiar landmark: Starbucks! And what before my wondering eyes did appear, directly across from Starbucks, a very large chocolatier!!! What a welcoming sight!

eliz in front of chocolate store

We had plenty of time before our next flight departed, so we plunked ourselves and our carry-ons down for a big ole’ comforting cup of coffee. Like little children on Christmas morning, our adventure was already unfolding.

Amsterdam’s airport is a melting pot of passengers from all over the world. John and I sat back and took it all in. The clothes, the accents, everything was fascinating.

Even the moving sidewalk…this lovely female voice, in a sing-song manner, repeated over and over, “Mind your step…..Mind your step…..Mind your step.” We Americans would’ve just hollered, “Watch where you’re goin’, already!!!”

One of many favorite books by Max Lucado, Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now brings up another way of thinking from “Mind Your Step”, to “Mind Your Mind”….

Glory Days

One favorite chapter is called The God-Drenched Mind. Don’t you want your mind to be God-drenched??? This chapter centers around Joshua 14:6-15.

The good news? Max helps us readers with ways to equip our faith and our minds.

The bad news? He opens with, “You’ll never have a problem-free life.” That’s okay, tho’, because surely by now every single one of us has discovered this!

Max points out that “The Lord” is referenced nine times in this passage alone. We know that any time anything is repeated in the Bible, it’s significant.

Max asks, “Who was on Caleb’s mind? Who was in Caleb’s heart? What caused him to have a different spirit? He centered his mind on the Lord.”

Watch this…Max gets personal: “What about you? What emphasis would a transcript of your thoughts reveal? The Lord? Or the problem? The economy? The jerk?”

In another recent post we talked about the importance of putting on the helmet of salvation. We addressed running everything thru’ the Philippians 4:8 filter:

Philippians 4 8

Max offers a show-stopping visual:

“Imagine two cooking bowls. One contains fresh, clean water. The second contains battery acid. Take an apple and cut it in half.

Place one half of the apple in the bowl of clean water. Place the other half in the bowl of battery acid. Leave each in its respective bowl for five minutes, and then pull out the two halves.

Which one will you want to eat?”

Two different apples, fresh and withered. Rotten apple.

“Your mind is the apple.

God is good water.

Problems are battery acid.

If you marinate your mind in your problems, they will eventually corrode and corrupt your thoughts.

But thoughts of God will preserve and refresh your attitudes.

Caleb was different because he SOAKED HIS MIND IN GOD.”

This caused me to pause and ask myself, “What am I marinating my mind in right now?” I busted myself (there’s a thought!) because I was stewing over a petite problem which my forever optimistic husband has told me, and told me again (remember???) to simply, “Let it go…” Alrighty then.

Finally, we’re blessed with one more prescription from Max for remembering to soak our minds in our Big God: “Stare at the mountain less and at the Mountain Mover more.” Amen.

LET’S MIND OUR MIND!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Scripture

Mind Your Mind….

Filled to the brim with excitement, Hubster and I were crossing the pond for our first-ever trip to France. Flying thru’ the night from Detroit to Amsterdam, most everyone but me slept.

Watching a little virtual map of our plane flying over different countries, logging hundreds of miles in minutes, kept me wide-eyed. Just as we touched down in Amsterdam, a big, beautiful orange sun was rising over the airport! While it was midnight back in the States, it was six o’clock in the morning in Amsterdam. Wow.

amsterdam

Clueless as to how to find our next gate, some sweet soul showed us how to enter different checkpoints en route to our plane to Marseilles. Suddenly, we came upon a very familiar landmark: Starbucks! And what before my wondering eyes did appear, directly across from Starbucks, a very large chocolatier!!! What a welcoming sight!

eliz in front of chocolate store

We had plenty of time before our next flight departed, so we plunked ourselves and our carry-ons down for a big ole’ comforting cup of coffee. Like little children on Christmas morning, our adventure was already unfolding.

Amsterdam’s airport is a melting pot of passengers from all over the world. John and I sat back and took it all in. The clothes, the accents, everything was fascinating.

Even the moving sidewalk…this lovely female voice, in a sing-song manner, repeated over and over, “Mind your step…..Mind your step…..Mind your step.” We Americans would’ve just hollered, “Watch where you’re goin’, already!!!”

The newest book by Max Lucado, Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now brings up another way of thinking from “Mind Your Step”, to “Mind Your Mind”….

Glory Days

One of many favorite chapters is Chapter Fourteen, The God-Drenched Mind. Don’t you want your mind to be God-drenched??? This chapter centers around Joshua 14:6-15.

The good news? Max helps us readers with ways to equip our faith and our minds.

The bad news? He opens with, “You’ll never have a problem-free life.” That’s okay, tho’, because surely by now every single one of us knows this!

Max points out that “The Lord” is referenced nine times in this passage alone. We know that any time anything is repeated in the Bible, it’s significant.

Max asks, “Who was on Caleb’s mind? Who was in Caleb’s heart? What caused him to have a different spirit? He centered his mind on the Lord.”

Watch this…Max gets personal: “What about you? What emphasis would a transcript of your thoughts reveal? The Lord? Or the problem? The economy? The jerk?”

Last week we talked about the importance of putting on the helmet of salvation. We addressed running everything thru’ the Philippians 4:8 filter:

Philippians 4 8

Max offers a show-stopping visual:

“Imagine two cooking bowls. One contains fresh, clean water. The second contains battery acid. Take an apple and cut it in half.

Place one half of the apple in the bowl of clean water. Place the other half in the bowl of battery acid. Leave each in its respective bowl for five minutes, and then pull out the two halves.

Which one will you want to eat?”

Two different apples, fresh and withered. Rotten apple.

“Your mind is the apple.

God is good water.

Problems are battery acid.

If you marinate your mind in your problems, they will eventually corrode and corrupt your thoughts.

But thoughts of God will preserve and refresh your attitudes.

Caleb was different because he SOAKED HIS MIND IN GOD.”

As God would orchestrate, this very week, our Tuesday Bible study group studied two passages of Scripture which bring this thought home as well. Thanks to our “Visiting Queen” of the week, Lynn Reese, she walked us thru’ these, word by word. (We are on Chapter Four in It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba.)

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Philippians 2:1-8 talks about imitating Christ’s humility, being like-minded with Him, being one in spirit and of one mind…having the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Therefore, having the mind of Christ.

Philippians 4:6-7 is one we all need every single day:

Do not be anxious about ANYTHING,

but in EVERY situation,

by prayer and petition,

WITH THANKSGIVING,

Present your requests to God.

And the PEACE OF GOD,

Which transcends ALL understanding,

WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS

And YOUR MINDS in Christ Jesus.”

Max says, “We must be deliberate about remembering God, immersing our minds in God thoughts.”

This sentence stopped me in my tracks, “Stare at the mountain less and at the Mountain Mover more.”

Recently, Max Lucado preached at Southeast, sharing more pearls from Glory Days. You can watch his wonderful sermon from 9/13/15 by clicking on this website: www.southeastchristian.org You’ll find him in the “sermons” section.

MIND YOUR MIND!

‘Til next time!

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Navy is the New Black…(Part 2 of 2 from Grace-Filled Marriage—The Missing Piece. The Place to Start. by Dr. Tim and Darcy Kimmel)

It’s Wedding Day! Beautiful September weather in the heart of the Bluegrass of Kentucky, found us all readying for our middle son’s wedding. You’d be hard pressed to find any prettier location this time of year…

Kentucky Horse Ranch

It was September 27th. This was going to be Lauren and Gordy’s BEST DAY EVER... We were all about to meet at the reception venue to be “transformed”…

Major project for yours truly. But for this Mom of all boys, a day like today was Heaven on earth.

Lauren and her Mom, Pam, graciously invited me to join the bridesmaids for brunch, make-up and hairdos. The bridesmaids were in their pink, monogrammed robes getting gussied up. Fascinating fun is the only way to describe it.

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Once I was literally made over (!!!), I headed back to the hotel where my dear friend, Meredith, awaited. She’d just driven in from Nashville. We walked across the street for a bite to eat.  John was out riding his bicycle and scoping out the Harley store, of all things

We all agreed to meet up around three o’clock to dress and head to the church at four o’clock. As is our predictable routine, we ran late, and started scrambling….

Wedding blunders began:

Only three of four tuxedo studs were in John’s box. Bit of a challenge as we were in Lexington, while perhaps the wayward stud was still in our home in Louisville, seventy-five miles away.

John’s bowtie stubbornly refused to stay on.

Bow Tie With Clipping Path

One hook on my dress was problematic.

My Grandmother’s pearls hung askew.

And you can guess, the blasted clock kept ticking…

John quickly threw on his jacket and off we raced to the church while I hummed, “Just Get Me to the Church on Time….”

tates creek

Once there, Lauren’s wedding coordinator helped secure John’s bowtie, and boutonnieres, bouquets, and bridal party were all in place. Guests were already arriving and before we knew it, we were marching down the aisle…

Will Witherington, one of Gordy and Lauren’s preachers, performed the wedding ceremony. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Will weeps and trembles over God’s Word. Sincerely. He makes his passion and zeal for the Word contagious. It was a moment in time you desperately wanted to freeze.

Bible With A Burning Candle

(Sidebar: I believe Will is a nicer version of Francis Chan. Hold on, we’ll be taught by Francis next week. Just you wait….)

Four thousand, seven hundred pictures posed for later (Kidding, sorta!!!), John and Meredith and I headed out to the parking lot to go to the Reception. Sun still brightly shining, something made me look over at John.

Group 2

As if a light switch of horrific realization flipped on, I blurted out, “Oh my word! You’re wearing your navy blazer!”

John said, “Oh, no! We’ve got to go back to the hotel and get my tux jacket!!! How in the world did that happen???”

I know now, I should have inspected John before we walked out of the hotel. I was too consumed with my own issues. Go figure.

We have since howled over this, laughing ‘til we cried. Only three people that we know of knew of the mysterious switcheroo. John graciously decided two important facts:

1 – Most people weren’t looking at us, they were focused on Lauren and Gordy. Rightly so.

2 – The navy blazer was already a lifesaver the night before for John Jr. He’d forgotten to bring one and needed it for the Rehearsal Dinner. So, we mustn’t blast the blazer. (LOL)

Thanks to my fashionista friends, I’ve been hearing “Navy is the new black.” Perhaps John was stylin’ and didn’t even know it.

His gracious reaction is a great segue way into finishing up our discussion of Grace Filled Marriage: The Missing Piece, the Place to Start by Dr. Tim Kimmel and his wife Darcy. (If you missed last week’s Part One, please click here.)

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Tim says, “In the bigger picture, some points of contention aren’t worth making into a major issue.”

Proverbs 19:11 says:

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (ESV) John overlooked my overlooking the navy blazer with black tuxedo pants. We call this giving each other a “grace card”.

Part Two of the Kimmel’s book addresses what grace looks like in a marriage. Tim and Darcy give us three things that grace gives us:

“Grace gives you:

         a Secure Love 

                   a Significant Purpose

                             and a Strong Hope…”

As well as two things grace frees us from:

“Grace frees us…

                   …to be Different and Vulnerable

                            …to be Candid and Make Mistakes. “ (Such as our wedding blunder….)

I can’t begin to express the plethora of pearls that are in this book. One of many favorite parts has to do with the freedom to be candid.

Tim says, “Communication is vital to a marriage relationshipA grace-filled spouse wants to communicate clearly and deeply with their mate, but not pummel their heart in the process.”

He goes on to define “candid” as “honesty drenched in grace.”

Playing In The Rain

Don’t you want to be drenched in grace???

Tim reminds us of Paul’s “rules for fighting fair” from Ephesians 4:25-32, especially from verse 29:

Ephesians 4 29

Many times, I know in my heart I shouldn’t say something before I ever say it. Unfortunately my stubbornness sometimes wins out, benefitting no one. And that prayer I should have said, before I blurted out that awful thing, hangs over my head.

If you’re struggling with something in your marriage, pray about it first. In the section on “Maintaining a Climate of Candor”, Tim offers, “God does indeed have an ‘Always Open’ sign. He assumes an approachable posture that is saturated with grace.”

Set of glowing neon OPEN signs. Vector.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Straight from scripture Tim teaches:

God has chosen marriage as his highest example to the world of His creation.

He wanted something that could weather the extreme demands of reckless culture and endure the radical attacks of the forces of evil.

Marriage was his first thought when he made man, and it will mark the final celebration of humankind’s journey when we finally join the Lord Jesus for the grand marriage reception with Jesus in heaven.”

Group pic

(CONGRATULATIONS again, Lauren and Gordy!  What a picture-perfect, blessed Wedding Day you had…)

Then, as if that isn’t enough in Grace-Filled Marriage, Tim issues a supreme challenge to all of us:

God needs the two of you to be a benchmark for His glory.

Your marriage is too important.

You’re too important.

And God’s glory….

                            is

                                 worth

                                          it

                                                all.”

Perfect sunrise on the sea, with radiant rays of sun over a warm

If you’d like to hear more on marriage, our ministers, Dave Stone and Kyle Idleman recently preached an excellent, 6-part series on marriage called “Awaken Love.” Kyle recommended Grace-Filled Marriage in the last sermon. Go to: www.southeastchristian.org

Amen and amen.

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to one of my long-time friends, Meredith Myers. She’s been burnin’ up I-65 to attend our boys’ weddings. We met in elementary school when we moved in across the street from each other and she’s been a sister I’ve never had ever since. Love you “Madge”!!!)

Eliz and madge

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Slaying Dragons at Deals Gap—Figuratively and Literally (Part 1 of 5: Help from Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate)

This week we are going to do some dragon slayin’…but first, you must hear of a most unique Dragon.  Anybody ever slayed The Dragon over in the Smokies?  Most slayers ride motorcycles.

Allow me to enlighten you on Deals Gap and its’ Motorcycle Resort. (www.dealsgap.com)  The website boasts, “You’ll find us nestled deep in the Great Smoky Mountains on the North Carolina/Tennessee state line.  We’re also known as the home of ‘the Dragon’.

It’s called ‘The Dragon’ because it boasts some of the most technical and challenging roads in the country.  It includes three hundred and eighteen curves in eleven miles.”

Riders who slay it, ride it again and again. My husband, John, has ridden it many times with many friends, including our oldest son, John Jr.

My favorite story involves one of John’s dear friends, who’s now in Heaven (not from having slain the Dragon I’m happy to report!), named Dick Richard.  Dick was a tough old bird.  Very reserved and serious, time spent with him was always interesting.

John and Dick took several trips on their Harleys to the Smokies.  John recalls their first trip to the Dragon as a remarkable sight to behold. Immediately after he and Dick successfully slayed the dragon, on their very loud Harleys, with helmets on, he heard the loudest whoopin’-and-hollerin’ coming from Dick’s direction.

To John’s astonishment, it wasn’t just coming from Dick’s direction, he realized it was coming from Dick!  He was like a little kid going down a slide for the first time. Completely out of character from his usual stoic temperament.

john and dick

Once on a romantic fall getaway to Snowbird Mountain Lodge, in Robbinsville, NC, John realized we could get there via the Dragon.  Now to be honest, curiosity killed the cat, so I really wanted to see it.  BUT….once we reached it and began traveling the eleven miles, negotiating the three hundred and eighteen curves, the strangest thing happened.  We also began seeing ambulances (yes, plural) and a truck hanging off of a cliff.  I began gripping my pillow in my lap with white knuckles and partially hyperventilating.

At one of the many overlooks John sweetly inquired, “Would you like to get out and see the breathtaking view?”  To which I nastily snapped, “No!  I want to get OFF this thing ASAP!!!”

After what seemed like three hundred thousand turns vs. only three hundred and eighteen, we arrived at the bottom.  Hey, and I’m pretty proud to say I slayed the dragon with John driving, while riding in a Honda Accord with four wheels and not two. Alrighty then.

Eliz and John

I’d not considered what could happen to the overconfident ones who rode a little too fast to make the curves. Yikes. Deals Gap’s website also boasts their “Rescue Squad has committed to posting a rescue truck on The Dragon every Saturday and Sunday (Makes one wonder about Monday thru’ Friday???).”

Go back to the Deals Gap website (www.dealsgap.com) and click on “Ride on the Dragon” to see these curves.  If you like it, make the trip!

Because so many of us tend to be fearful, we’re going to spend the next few posts slaying our dragons of fear.  I recently read a wonderful book by Debora M. Coty called Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate—Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life’s Worries. Debora doles out Scripture to bust up fear and boost our faith with laugh out loud humor.

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Before we get into her book, (look for that in parts Two thru’ Five), we’ve got more dragons to slay.  While the Deals Gap Dragon is a crazy one to know about, after hearing Kyle Idleman’s sermon, “Seeing Clearly” from Revelation 12-18, at Southeast Christian Church, (You can go onto Southeast’s website and watch this powerful sermon.  www.southeastchristian.org ) we must be aware of the Dragon in Scripture. He’s prowling now as he was then and we must recognize him.

Kyle taught us about three characters in this passage of Revelation:  a pregnant woman, the child she births, and a red Dragon. This fire-breathing buster is better known as Satan the Devil, the Accuser, the Father of Lies.

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Kyle’s eye-opening teaching came straight out of the Bible. Best part?  He gave us the theme of these seven chapters:  The Devil is Defeated.

Worst part?  Satan’s mad and he’s after us.  Revelation 12:7-12 shows us he’s “enraged and is waging war against us” (NIV).  The Message says he’s “helpless with rage”.

How do we know that?  Look at verse 17, the Devil is after “the children who keep God’s commands and hold firm to the witness of Jesus.” (MSG)  Christian brothers and sisters, this would be us!

My Life Application Bible implores, “We must make certain not to lose the battle for our own souls.  Don’t waver in your commitment to Christ.  A great spiritual battle is being fought, and there is no time for indecision.”

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Can you feel this sense of urgency?  Revelation 13:10b in the ESV says, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”  The Message says, “Meanwhile, God’s holy people passionately and faithfully stand their ground.”

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My Life Application Bible enlightens, “Don’t fall into Satan’s trap and turn away from God when hard times come.  Instead, use those tough times as opportunities for growth.”

Chris Tomlin has a great song out called “Whom Shall I Fear”.  Part of the lyrics come from Isaiah 54:5.  The Message calls our God the “God of Angel Armies”.  Look at the chorus with me:

“I know who goes before me.

I know who stands behind.

The God of angel armies is always by my side.

The One who reigns forever.

He is a friend of mine.

The God of angel armies is always by my side.”

There are several YouTube videos of Chris singing the song and of him telling the story of how it came about. (These are worth your time, especially to see the entire lyrics.) He tells of his friend, Ed Cash, with whom he wrote the song and how they focused on equipping fellow believers to sing this song of faith to God, knowing that whatever comes against us, we’re to remember God is on our side, as well as His army of angels.

He cited Second Kings Chapter Six where the prophet Elisha in verse 16 tells his servant, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than who are with them.”  Then he prayed and “The Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (ESV)

Revelation 12:11 reminds us how the dragon is defeated:  “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”  By Jesus’ crucifixion and the power of His resurrection, and by our witness, we win.

Next time you’re fearful, remind yourself of your faith, dive into Scripture, and don’t forget:  “The Devil is Defeated”!  “The God of angel armies is always by your side!”

 

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‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to my dear, talented friend Kay Richard.  We were neighbors for six years and she and Dick sooo blessed our lives.  John cannot even speak of Dick without recounting their fun riding days.  Kay’s talent of flower arranging has spread beauty at many a party.  Love to you and your family, Kay!  And we will celebrate your belated birthday soon! Hugs across town!)

Pictured from left to right on one cold Kentucky Derby Day: Behrouz Alizadeh, my husband John, Yours Truly, Julie Alizadeh, Dick Richard and Kay Richard

Pictured from left to right on one cold Kentucky Derby Day: Behrouz Alizadeh, my husband John, Yours Truly, Julie Alizadeh, Dick Richard and Kay Richard

  

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From Easter Chicks to God Chicks… Avoid the Comparison Trap!

Perish the thought of ever being a “hot chick”… Please forgive me, but when I hear the word “chick”, because of this lovely world in which we live, that caliente phrase whips around in my little brain.

So, I’d love to introduce you to a fun, positive phrase, for you girls out there.  Did you know we may also be known as “God Chicks”?  There’s a great book by Holly Wagner with that very title: God Chicks—Living Life as a 21st Century Woman. 

God Chicks

Thankfully Holly clarifies the title:  “The reason I’m using the term chick is not to be disrespectful, but to have a little fun!  So c’mon, you amazing God Chick.  Open your heart to a picture of the woman you were created to be!”

 Last week while celebrating Easter, oh and I pray you celebrated “He is risen!” (Click here for more on “He is risen!”, Jesus’ resurrection), you may have seen little Easter chicks for décor. Or, I know some folks who hatch live chicks this time of year.  Cute,  little fuzzy critters…who blossom into big ole’ hens.  Good eggs, bad rap.  I digress…

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Let’s return to “God Chicks”.  Holly gives us several kinds of chicks, all of which are empowering. The one we’ll focus on today is the “Just-B-U” Chick.

One of  my pet peeves, and quite honestly, struggles, is the turbulent trap of comparison.  I inevitably compare myself with the “chick next door”, or the “chick next to me at the checkout”, or the “chick on TV”, and by all means run-Forrest-run from magazine covers!

Holly’s prescription for comparison?  The “Just-B-U” chick! She reminds us, “We will only be effective when we are being ourselves…We spend valuable time wishing we were like someone else, and all the time we have our own treasures inside us…just waiting to be discovered.”

Edwin Elliot said, “By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before!” Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, and I know that full well.”

Holly adds, “Together we will do awesome things for our God, but only if we encourage each other as we fulfill our unique purposes rather than tear each other down by being jealous.”

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One recent experience highlights this point perfectly.  Last summer, I was blessed to team-teach with two other very seasoned Bible study teachers, Jane Chilton and Nancy Tinnell.  Jane is a long-time dear friend and mentor of mine.  Nancy is a new, dear friend and mentor, and, may I go so far as to say a guardian angel to many of us in a multitude of ways!!!

By some miracle, and by blind belief on Nancy’s part (!), the three of us connected, prayed, and planned a six-week Bible study. (I fully believe, after the fact, this was a divine appointment.)  We studied Liz Curtis Higgs’ book, The Girl’s Still Got It—Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World. (If you go online to Liz’ website, www.lizcurtishiggs.com, you can read her blog about her Bible study on the Book of Ruth.)

The Girls still got it

Being the rookie in this trio has its’ benefits:  I got to watch and soak in a boatload of wisdom. (This was my first time ever to teach a Bible study!) Our planning meetings were rich.  Nancy has this uncanny God-given talent to hone in on a theme to share with our attendees.  She  literally came up with one word or character trait per chapter of Liz’ twelve chapter book!  She kept us focused and on-track. She uses beautiful phrases such as “canopy of grace” that melt your heart.

Open Bible

Jane has also taught Bible studies for years.  She first taught Bible Study Fellowship (www.bsfinternational.org ) and later taught at Southeast Christian Church.  I was blessed to sit under her teaching for several semesters.  She also has an uncanny God-given talent:  she brings to the table unforgettable visuals which clearly tie in a teaching point to apply to your life.  She pushes you to savor God’s Word beyond your brain, to let it dwell in your heart and pour out onto others.

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These gals encouraged me to just be myself.   Perhaps I was the comic relief of the bunch…. Even  more comical, was how much I prayed the same thing over and over to the Lord.  Can’t we all shout hallelujah that He never tires of hearing from us?

 James 4:8 in the New King James Version reminds us, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” We praise you Lord.

 Being pushed way out of one’s comfort zone isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Ann Voskamp recently said, “God takes you out of your comfort zone because THAT’S where you meet The Comforter.” 

I pray you’ll seriously grasp Holly Wagner’s concept of a Just-B-U Chick.   (And this is just one of eight different chicks she teaches about!  More on the others in another post or two or seven!)  The Just-B-U chick encourages all of us to use our gifts to share with others.  Quit comparing yourself to others!  It does no one any good.  At all.

 My small group of Bible study buddies is beginning an awesome study written by Tammy Head.  It’s called Duty or Delight?  Knowing Where You Stand with God.

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Already in week 2, Tammy addresses the comparison trap.  She says, “If God isn’t the inspiration for doing what we do, let’s abandon those man-made expectations and run to the cross.  What we’re ultimately looking for is approval, and because Jesus offered His life for us, we already have it.”  Just-B-U!!!

 “Never forget…your value…far above rubies and pearls.”  (Adapted from Proverbs 31:10)

 To close, may I ask you to pray a long-term prayer request?  And may it double as something ultra worthwhile to pray about adding to your calendar?  (Click on “But I don’t have time for a Bible study”… if you have any doubts…)

Guess what?  My friends I told you about earlier, Jane and  Nancy….well, WE have just had another planning meeting.  Watch out

 Exciting news!!!  We will be offering a Fall Bible study.  (Thence the long-term prayer request.)  Please pray for all details to come together and for those of you close to Louisville to come and study with us at Middletown United Methodist Church (www.Middletownumc.org.  If you have questions, please call Kelly McDonald at 502-245-8839)!!!

Even better news: EVERYONE’S invited!  While you’re praying, ask the Lord who He would have you invite.

Tentative timing for the Bible study will run from mid-September until mid-November on Tuesdays.  We’ll be studying Liz Curtis Higgs’ updated edition of Bad Girls of the Bible–and What We Can Learn from Them which has a brand-new, chapter-by-chapter Bible study video taught by Liz.

Oh my, we are ALL in for a treat!  And, like last year, Liz will come visit and speak  in one of our morning classes and one of our night classes!  You do not want to miss this opportunity!  (Her book releases July 16th.)

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I pray we can all be a Just-B-U chick every day.  Remember John Piper’s infamous quote, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.”  That is:  in our own skin, not someone else’s.

 Jeremiah 1:5 adds confirmation to our uniqueness:  “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

 Blessings to you this spring day.  Just-B-U!

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to my two teaching buddies:  Jane Chilton and Nancy Tinnell.  I’m honored and forever grateful to have been a part of last summer’s study and now, this upcoming one for fall.  Y’all keep me challenged!  I need to stay on my knees, and for that, I’m forever grateful.  May God bless you and continue to give you His guidance to lead me and soooo many others. )

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But, I Don’t Have TIME to Pray! (Beating Busyness – Part 2 of 4)

How do you say “no” to one of your children’s teachers?  I was pondering a big “no thank you” when one of our son’s teachers called the parents in and drove a hard bargain.  She asked each of us to sign up for a weekly visit to teach memory verses!   A gargantuan deer-in-the-headlights expression consumed my face.  Problem is, I’ve been known to fear Scripture memory*, much less teach it!

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At the time, these were fifth graders, so what’s the big deal, right?  But…. fifth graders are pretty savvy.  Plus I discovered the simple-but-endearing verse “Jesus wept” had already been taught!  Bust!

Good news:  I Thessalonians 5:17 had not yet been taught, and it too was only two words! (“Pray continually.”)  Powerful verse, pitifully coward-like attempt on my part, I know, but that’s the exact verse I marched in with.

I took blue pieces of paper (to remind us of a blue sky) and taught these little darlings what an “arrow prayer” is.  We all drew arrows pointing heavenward, and recited “Pray continually” together.  We talked about the letter “a” also standing for “ambulance” and how we can shoot up arrow prayers for the patient inside when we see an ambulance.

These astute learners added the  letter “a” also can stand for being on the” alert” for anything or anyone who may need a quick arrow prayer.  They even came up with “a” for “antennae”—as in we should have our antennae up!  Who was teaching who here?!!!

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This week, we’re going to address Beating Busyness by applying margin to our lives in the area of prayer.  Last week we talked at length about margin (But I Don’t Have TIME for a Bible Study!), learning margin is the space between our load and our limits.

When we spread ourselves too thin, we push out God and our closest relationships.  Best news: margin beats busyness and we’re discussing four ways, one each week, to do that.

Many of us claim there’s not enough time in the day to add prayer to our list, but I’d like to show us all it is very possible.  Our friends and family will be blessed!

When asked about the secret of his evangelistic crusades, Billy Graham said, “We have three secrets:  Prayer, Prayer and Prayer!”

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Let’s begin by praying for a friend near and dear to my heart.  Many of you know Kristen Sauder.  She’s my younger-but-wiser friend, is married to Kurt and they have four children.  She’s written excellent Bible studies, hosts a wonderful radio program (“Excellent Things”, weekdays here in Louisville on WFIA FM…), is a gifted speaker, and teacher.  She’s recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Lord, we come before you today to lift up Kristen and Kurt Sauder.  You have gifted them to minister to so many of us.  Please guide the doctors, aid the radiation to diminish the cancer, strengthen Kristen to endure, comfort her family, and enable us to minister to them.  We praise you that you are in control and we trust in you.  In  Jesus’ name, Amen.

 Kristen Sauder

That’s more than an arrow prayer, obviously, but just that paragraph took only eight seconds.  See how this can be done?  We all can help so many by praying for them.  I Kings 8:28 says “God listens to our prayers.”  And Proverbs 15:8 tells  us “God delights in our prayers.” (See below for more Scripture on prayer.**)

Bill Hybels wrote an excellent book on prayer called Too Busy Not to Pray.  In his chapter Slowing Down to Pray, Bill  says “Busyness is akin to something the Bible calls worldliness—getting caught up with society’s agenda, objectives and activities to the neglect of walking with God. ”  Whoa.  Surely we don’t mean to neglect God, do we?

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Therefore, taking time to pray is paramount to our Christian lives.   Bill adds, “Prayer unlocks God’s consistent and prevailing power in our lives. Prayer is a bridge from despair to hope, from fear to confidence, from spectating  to participating.

Bill offers another excellent tool for prayer beyond an arrow prayer.  He highly recommends, as do many of my faithful prayer warrior friends, keeping a journal.  Am I hearing some of you groan?

Journals aren’t for everyone, so not to worry.  However, if you like seeing answered prayer, this is the way to go.  You’ll then realize the value and power of prayer.  NOTHING is impossible with God! (See Luke 1;36-38 in The Message.)

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Journaling slows you down long enough to think about  for whom and for what to pray.  “Journaling  gives the body a brief rest.”  (We’ll be talking more about the importance of “rest” in a couple of weeks.) “Journaling focuses the mind and frees the Holy Spirit to operate, if only for a few minutes.  It’s time to slow down, reflect, and listen.”

One of many favorite books on prayer is Catherine Martin’s Passionate Prayer—Discovering the Power of Talking with God.  Catherine really feels strongly about taking the time to pray.  She says, “Step away from the life of hurry and find the rhythm of walking and talking with Jesus.”

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She talks about “When someone asks how we are doing, our response of ‘fine’ really means:

“Fine”  according to the  world:  Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.”  Uh, that would be me on occasion.  You?

“Fine”  according to our prayer livesFaithful to God, Inspired by Him, Nourished by the Word, Empowered by the Holy Spirit.”  Slight difference, huh?

Savor these words from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7:   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Dave Stone, Senior Minister at Southeast Christian Church preached an excellent sermon recently on the above verses plus a few more.  He maintains our focus is key to navigating this world.  He showed us in Philippians that Paul did not allow the world to change his focus.  (To watch the sermon, “Live With It:  Focus”, go to www.southeastchristian.org )

The Life Application Bible says, “Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers.  Do you want to worry less?  Then pray moreWhenever you start to worry, stop and pray.”

Catherine Martin adds, “When we pray, the world can see the change in who we are and what we do.  Enriching our lives of prayer is WORTH the time and energy.”

Next time you tell yourself you don’t have time to pray, take a second, literally, and ask God to help you.  Talk  to Him.  See from James 4:8** below that when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

Finally, let’s return to that hammock picture from last week.

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Look at it, picture yourself lying in it, swinging back and forth with a lovely warm breeze in your hair.  Now,  enjoy this visual from Ole Hallesby, a Norwegian theologian:  “To pray is nothing more involved than to lie in the sunshine of His grace, to expose our distress of body and soul to those healing rays which can in a wonderful way counteract and render ineffective the bacteria of sin.  To be a man or woman of prayer is to take this sun-cure, to give Jesus, with His wonderworking power access to our distress night and day.”

Next week, we’ll be discussing the need to diligently guard our calendars.  White space in your calendar equals more margin in your life.

‘Til  next time!

(Today’s blog post is dedicated to my prayer warriors:  Becky Pippert, Jane Chilton and Doris Bridgman.  They’ve taught this “Doubting Thomas”  the power of persistent, unrelenting prayer.  Numerous times over the years, they’ve been a life-preserver to my sanity, all by simply offering to pray.  Thanks, girls!  Love y’all.)

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*Three  great resources on Scripture memory:

Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts  is memorizing one hundred and eleven verses from Matthew 5,6, and 7, plus has the Romans Project on Chapters  1, 8, and 12.  She’s giving us, the readers, great ways to do this on her blog:  www.aholyexperience.com plus she shares about a new i-phone app called Scripture Typer.  Check it out!

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Rob Morgan has authored an excellent book 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.  Billy Graham talks about Rob and this book in his book, Nearing Home.  Both are powerful.

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 Kristen Sauder, whom we prayed for earlier, wrote a super neat Picture Scripture:  Bible Memory Like You’ve Never Seen it Before notebook with excellent visuals, depicting lots of Scriptures. Great  way to memorize. You can find this via www.furtherstillministries.org

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**A few favorite Scriptures on prayer:

 James 4:8a  “ Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (This and all the below Scriptures are in the  NIV version.)  The NLT from James 4:8a says, “Come close to God and he will come close to you.” And the NKJ says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all  the Lord’s people.”

Luke 18:1  “ Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 18:20  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Colossians 4:2   “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

James 5:16  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

 

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Let’s Give Some Grace for Christmas: Review of Max Lucado’s newest book: “Grace—More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine”

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Last I heard, Max Lucado can be seen commandeering a bright red Mini Cooper on the streets of San Antonio, Texas.  Astonishing.  I’ll tell you why in a minute…

First time I ever met Max, he was seated in the Green Room of a convention center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. My dear friend Becky Pippert, also a speaker with him at this conference, arranged our meeting.  As he stood up, he matched my husband’s height, as in six feet four inches, at least.  He might as well have been the Jolly Green Giant. (How, I wonder, can The Jolly Green Giant fit in and function in a bright red Mini Cooper?)

Fast on his feet, my husband recognized my case of star-struckness, and translated for me, “Max, this is my wife, Elizabeth.  She’s read all of your books.  We just wanted to say ‘hello’ and sure appreciate your writing.”  Mute, and smiling, there went my big moment.

Ah well, thankfully, there came some second chances.  I was privileged to help with a couple of book signings when Max came to speak at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

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The blessing for me came not just in helping with the signings, but by hearing the words of others.  Funny, if you just get out of the way, you can hear blessings much clearer.

One man approached Max and said, “My wife has read all of your books!”  To which I wanted to chime in, “So have I!!!”  But, I refrained as the man continued, “Yep, she’d have been here, but she’s very sick in the hospital.”  Whoa.

An elderly man came up with a young girl.  Turns out she was his granddaughter and was soon to be married.  They had a Bible and asked Max to sign it.  Quick as ever Max quipped, “Well, you know I didn’t happen to write the Bible!”  To which the grandfather said, “Oh, we realize that, it’s just we love your book 3:16 so much, we were wondering if you’d sign by that verse in the Book of John so my granddaughter and her new husband will have a benchmark to remember you by.”  You can surmise Max did as he was asked.

Max Lucado 316Another couple walked up and asked Max to sign a book for their daughter.  Seems she was battling cancer. Max stopped the conversation right there and asked, “How ‘bout we pray for her?”  My tears weren’t the only ones falling.  Wow.

So to have finished Max’ newest book, Grace—More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, may I say it’s a must-read!  Max is the real deal and he “gets” God’s grace–a tough concept to grasp. Wait ‘til you see some of his explanations…

My friend Liz Curtis Higgs recently spoke with Max in Minneapolis at a Women of Faith conference.  She sent me some of his quotes and all are heart stoppers.  (Don’t forget she, too, has an excellent book on grace:  Embrace Grace—Welcome to the Forgiven Life.)

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Here are a few favorites from Max’s book:  Early on, Max offers this from John Stott:  “Grace is God loving, God stooping, God coming to the rescue, God giving himself generously in and through Jesus Christ.”  Non-stop, wouldn’t you say?

Just when you think you’re cruisin’ quite smoothly, Max suggests we be prepared for some not-so-nice condemnations from Satan:  “Stupid, unproductive, slow learner, fast talker, quitter, cheapskate..”  Max tells us to bid those  farewell.

He says, “Behold the fruit of grace:  saved by God, raised by God, seated with God.  Gifted, equipped, and commissioned.  You are who he says you are:  Spiritually alive.  Heavenly positioned.  Connected to God.  A  billboard of mercy.  An honored child.  This is the ‘aggressive forgiveness we call grace.’ (Romans 5:20 from The Message)  Satan is left speechless and without ammunition.”  Yes!

The above reassuring quote is one of many which will boost your faith.  He encourages us to “stretch ourselves out in the hammock of grace.”  All  enveloping, huh?  Lord, please help us to remember this!  Forgive us for forgetting!

Here’s another breathtaking way to look at grace.  Max says, “Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection.  It comes at us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave.”  Being a beach lover, this is my favorite analogy in the book.  Can’t you just picture the waves?

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His chapter on Chosen Children may require you to get up and fetch a Kleenex or two.  He talks about how we never outgrow our need for a father’s love.  He reminds us we have an earthly Father and a Heavenly Father.  He gives us some of God’s words and tells us to let them “cement in our hearts a deep, satisfying, fear-quenching confidence that God will never let you go.  You belong to him…The adoption is irreversible.  YOU have a place at his table.”

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Max boldly encourages: “The hand on your shoulder is mine. The words I give you are God’s. Receive them slowly.  Don’t filter, resist, downplay, or deflect them.  Just receive them. MY CHILD.  I WANT YOU IN MY NEW KINGDOM.  I HAVE SWEPT AWAY YOUR OFFENSES LIKE THE MORNING CLOUDS, YOUR SINS LIKE THE MORNING MIST.  I HAVE REDEEMED YOU.  THE TRANSACATION IS SEALED.  THE MATTER IS SETTLED.  I, GOD, HAVE MADE MY CHOICE.  I CHOOSE YOU TO BE PART OF MY FOREVER FAMILY.”  Amen and Amen.

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Especially during this Christmas season I pray that you and I may truly allow these words to soak into our very souls. Slip them on daily as you would your clothes.  Wearing grace will most assuredly enable us to give grace.

‘Til  next time!

(This blog post is dedicated, oh, I’m so predictable…..to one of my favorite all-time authors:  Mr. Max Lucado.  Some of my friends who know him say he’s just like he seems in his books, in the pulpit, on the stage, etc.  Friendly,  humble,  and grace-filled. Max, thanks for all of your great, inspirational books.  May God continue to inspire you to inspire us, your readers.  God Bless you, your family, your church, and your ministry.)

P.S.  Don’t miss a great gift book, also by Max on grace.   Beautiful words from several of his books and gorgeous photos are plentiful.  It’s called Grace Happens Here—You are Standing Where Grace is Happening. You can also find out more on Max’ website:  www.maxlucado.com.max Lucado Grace Happens Here

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